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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Slovakia / Czech Republic

Martina Buchelová is preparing her feature fiction debut Lover, Not a Fighter


- The emerging Slovak writer-director’s urban tragicomic love story utilises a romantic narrative to convey the tribulations and passions of Gen Z

Martina Buchelová is preparing her feature fiction debut Lover, Not a Fighter
Director Martina Buchelová

The young generation of promising Slovak filmmakers is gradually getting to the fore. Among the class of 2022 at this year’s domestic industry pitching forum Work in Progress @ Febiofest Bratislava Industry Days (read the report) is writer-director Martina Buchelová, whose bachelor short film Magic Moments world premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival before winning prizes on the festival circuit. In 2015, Buchelová was spotlighted as one of the ten most promising young filmmakers in the Future Frame initiative with her short film Green Line

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Buchelová previously worked on youth-focused documentaries in Slovakia, the U.K., and Turkey, and is finishing the feature-length documentary All Good Everywhere, in which she observes with her co-director Debora Pastirčáková the young population in the poorer regions of Slovakia. In addition to her documentary project, Buchelová is also developing her feature-length fiction debut, titled Lover, Not a Fighter. The writer-director is putting her finger on the pulse of Gen Z, preparing a generational portrait as a romantic, urban, coming-of-age tragicomedy. 

The 20-something star-crossed lovers are Miša, the daughter of a conspirator, while the knight on a white horse is the alcoholic Andrej, who lives with his grandma. The love story is a backdrop against which a host of prevailing social symptoms will be discussed, such as manipulation, addiction, toxic masculinity, and end of life. “We consider the film a generational statement in terms of reflecting on all the craziness in the world around us and how society is changing,” says producer Michaela Kaliská, adding that “we want to make people laugh it off and have a break from the tough world we are living in.”

“Characters do stuff consciously or unconsciously to be closer to someone. That's what they secretly wish for the most – belonging with someone. Some sometimes wish for it so much that they get tangled in absurd, weird, even scary situations. But it is not important for them as much as the love they chase,” the director told Cineuropa. Addressing her vision for the film’s style, Buchelová responded that the whole film “should be playful, desperate and dreamy like our main protagonist Andrej. The camera captures characters in real situations, but sometimes we follow the story also through the screen of Andrej’s computer, or his mobile phone when he subjectively comments on the situations around him.” 

The film’s producer, Michaela Kaliská of NINJA Film, told Cineuropa that a small gap in financing remains to be filled in. They are currently working on casting the roles and are preparing for location scouting sessions that should unfold throughout Autumn 2022. Principal photography is scheduled to begin in May 2023. The premiere date is preliminary set for Spring 2024, by which time all the post-production work should be wrapped. Besides the gap in financing, Kaliská is currently looking for a sales agent, and potential festival and VOD representatives. 

Lover, Not a Fighter is produced by Michaela Kaliská and Erika Paulinská of young Slovak outfit NINJA Film and co-produced by Czech company Unit+Sofa (Julie Žáčková). The Slovak Audiovisual Fund and Czech Film Fund supported the project. Lover, Not a Fighter is the first project to win the Cineuropa Award at Febiofest Bratislava Industry Days.

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